Nuclear Emergencies

Emergency Plans


Local and state government agencies have emergency plans in the event of an accident at a nearby nuclear power plant. These plans define two emergency planning zones.

The first zone covers the first 10-mile radius around the plant where it is possible people could be harmed by direct exposure to radiation. The second zone covers a 50-mile radius around the plant where radioactive materials could contaminate water supplies, farm areas, and livestock.

The longer a person is exposed to radiation, the greater the effect and damage can be. A high dose of radiation can cause serious illness or death. Knowing what steps to take and how to react during an emergency can reduce your exposure and risk of injury.
What to Do in a Nuclear Emergency

Minimize Your Exposure
  • Distance yourself from the area; this could involve an evacuation or orders to remain indoors
  • Shield yourself from radiation; the heavier or denser the material is between you and the radiation source, the better
  • Move to your basement or an interior room
Most radioactive material loses its strength fairly quickly over time.

If You Are Told to Evacuate
  • Immediately move to a location designated by public officials when so directed
  • Gather what you and your family will need. See Disaster Planning for information on Making a Kit.
  • Take only essential items, especially medication
  • Do not go to your child's school; school officials will take special care of your children
  • Leave a sign on your door saying the house has been evacuated
  • Go to the safe designated area as directed by officials
  • Keep car windows and vents closed
Shelter In Place
  • Go inside if you are outdoors
  • Protect yourself inside your house or other building
  • Close all windows; outdoors, tape cracks for extra protection
  • Turn off the air conditioner, ventilation fans, furnace, and other air intakes
  • Close all vents on cooling, heating, or ventilation systems
  • Use your air conditioners and fans for internal re-circulation only
  • Move to the central interior area of the building
  • Stay inside until local radio or tv stations inform you that the emergency is over
  • Go to a basement or other underground area if possible
  • Keep food in covered containers or in the refrigerator; food not previously covered should be washed before put in containers
  • Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary
If You Suspect You Have Been Exposed to Radiation
  • Change clothes and shoes
  • Put exposed clothing in a plastic bag
  • Seal the bag and place it out of the way
  • Take a thorough shower